Ever since, every spare moment has been spent, with the help of my brother caring for mom in an attempt to help her recover. Guiding her through physical therapy, neurological therapy and more. She was completely unable to care for herself. I worked with her during the day, while my evenings and overnights were spent completing the film. Sleep was minimal. My husband and friends rarely saw me. Add on top of this, a career change for my husband and relocating our family. If this were not enough, I was also looking after my mother in law who suffers from Alzheimers. She is in a wonderful memory center, however I felt it important to check in on her regularly.
Unfortunately, mom took a turn for the worse after contracting sepsis. She was not expected to survive it. Even though she pulled through, I knew this was the beginning of the end.
So you see, I just did not have the time or the motivation to deal with the "stack". As mentioned in my previous post, the "stack" is composed of books, scripts proposals just sitting there waiting for me to tackle. On top of this stack was a little book that, well quite honestly, I never thought I would ever get to.
One day, a nagging voice just would not stop. It was in my head and directing me to read that book NOW. Why that book? Why now? I was still overwhelmed with everything and I had a few proposals that were much more attractive if I managed to spare the time. Why not read those first? So on a recent flight to visit my mom, I decided to silence that voice and read There's A Window To Heaven by Dr. Garrett L. Turke. As a journalist, I read everything with a critical eye and this was no different. Imagine my surprise when I found myself a crying mess within one chapter. Holy crap...That has NEVER happened before. Good grief! How on earth did this little book resonate so much with me? I could not stop reading it and I have to admit, I said a prayer asking that my plane would not crash so that I could see how it ended. I HAD to know.
The story resonated with me but took a while to process. I read it several times and each time it triggered something new. I remembered that my mom had a similar experience months before when she was pretty much given last rites after contracting sepsis. She used every one of her nine lives to pull out of that one. Six months later after reading this book I now know how to recognize when my mom has one of these experiences. On my last trip, she was unable to speak at all. I thought maybe she had several mini-strokes. One day I arrived to find her speaking coherently about a "trip" she went on with various people. She was so excited to talk about it. I dug deeper (careful not to prompt her) to find out as much as I could. Mom had so much to tell me so much. I documented what she experienced by taking almost 1500 photos and recording her voice on my smart phone. We also had a Nest camera in her room, which I had hoped would not go offline. (It did) She spoke for only 20 minutes and never said another word to me for what remained of her life..
There's A Window To Heaven opened my eyes to the possibility that our spirit lives on with purpose. I now communicate with my terminally ill mother and my mother in law in a more meaningful way. The book also offered comfort to our family by reassuring us they will pass in peace. This is not a self help or how-to book. It's simply the carefully documented events as witnessed by Dr. Turke. I appreciate that the message is non-dogmatic and I believe it will resonate with anyone regardless of belief.
I am currently reading his first book 497 Nails, which is the complete story (in which, the 17 days took place) of Dr. Turke's personal journey of caring for his father as the disease begins to advance. So far I am only halfway through and I have shed a tear or two and laughed as he masterfully weaves the touching story of caring for his father as only an OCD psychologist son should.
Why am I sharing this with you? My mission for CFTWF is to shine a light on those who help others in a meaningful and tangible way. Dr. Turke left a successful practice and put his reputation on the line in order to help heal others through his father's story. If that is not a leap of faith, I do not know what is.
I hope you will spend the $10 to buy There's A Window To Heaven (Amazon) and if you like it, pass it on or purchase a few more copies to give as gifts to those who need it. Recently, I learned that Dr. Turke is donating 10% of the proceeds from the sale of all of his books to Nyaka AIDS Orphans Project which, we profiled in CORNERSTONE How cool is that?
UPDATE Jan 1, 2019: My mother in law passed away in December. She suffered from Alzheimers for a number of years. I did not make it time to say goodbye, but I was comforted by the fact that I had said what I needed to her back in June after reading There's A Window to Heaven.
After she passed, I checked the Nest Cam in her room and it shows that she was mostly unconscious for several days. Then hours before she died, my mother in law sat up as if she were having a conversation with someone we cannot see. She raises her hand and points as if she recognizes someone. She continues talking (we cannot understand what she is saying) and she smiles. The camera goes off for some unknown reason at this point.
UPDATE Aug 1, 2018: A few days after publishing this, mom passed away peacefully with her angels. My brother and his girlfriend were at her side and described mom's final minutes in the following way:
"Mom was ready, she signaled to us they were waiting for her and were ready to go. She was definitely not alone. We felt them. We heard them. Mom squeezed my hand with a big smile on her face and peacefully left this earth. "
They read There's A Window To Heaven a few weeks before and both agreed that the book helped them make the most of their time with her in the final days and it brought much needed comfort to them.
Looking back on it, my last conversation with my mom was about the "trips" and I am so grateful to Dr. Turke for sending me his book to review. My last visit with her was touching and memorable.